The most interesting thing that came out of Saturday in the park with the Orioles is that manager Buck Showalter is giving Jonathan Schoop a mini-dose of the Chris Davis Treatment.
It won’t be for eight games, like it was with Davis. But Showalter said he plans to give Schoop some rest – Saturday, likely today and Monday’s team off day – as a way to regroup a little.
“Have a reset, a little shorter version of what we did with Chris,” Showalter said about Schoop. “I’ve thought about it a lot. He’s been struggling for quite a while with very few exceptions. And just hasn’t been able to put together that consistency that he did last year. He’s not the only one. But you keep waiting.”
A reset makes sense. And it also brings to light just how much Schoop has struggled this season.
Most of the attention on this dismal offense has been on Davis, because he has the big contract and the huge strikeout numbers and the paltry average and the meager homer totals.
Schoop, though, might be more disappointing so far this season because of the heights he reached in 2017.
The All Star second baseman was the club’s best player throughout most of last year, hitting .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs in 160 games.
This season, he’s batting .197 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 61 games. All eight homers are solo shots and he has struck out 55 times in 249 at-bats. He hit .144 with a .516 OPS in June, including two hits in 27 at-bats during his last seven games.
This isn’t punishment, Showalter stresses. It’s trying to take pressure off Schoop, an easygoing guy who is listening to everyone while trying to improve his results.
“He’s getting information and suggestions from every angle. Jon’s a guy that’s gonna listen,” Showalter said. “And if you have one swing and one at-bat and you don’t hit a double into left-center field, do you go to something else? I mean, that’s kind of where you’ve got to stay with a process and a plan. That was kind of the thought with Chris.”
Showalter said Schoop is trying to change his season on every swing, and, like many, isn’t fully embracing the process it takes to get back.
“You’ve got to change the way you look at results. If you look up on the scoreboard and you see you’re hitting (.197), that will all take care of itself if you stay in the pitch, the at-bat,” the manager said. “And how do you define a good result? Is it taking a walk? That’s hard to do when you’re trying to hit .290, .300 and you’re hitting .190, OK?”
Schoop’s best friend on the team, shortstop Manny Machado, said he understands how hard it is to deal with continual failure for an extended period. Machado had a rough first half in 2017, but ultimately broke out of it.
‘You feel like (crap). Who doesn’t? Who wouldn’t? It’s a tough situation. I can’t speak for him because I don’t know what he is feeling, but for me, personally, what I felt like was that you’re never going to get out of a hole,” Machado said. “He’s got to try and stay positive, and he has a good group around him. He has his wife and kids, and he kind of get (away from) just baseball. He doesn’t have to just think about baseball the whole time. I think that helps. But, at the same time, we all want him to succeed, we don’t want to see him failing.”
The key, Machado said, is for Schoop to somehow stay positive.
“Once you step on that field, you’ve got to forget everything. You’re not going to be a boss every day. Nobody’s a boss every day, nobody goes 4-for-4 every day. It’s impossible,” Machado said. “We talk about that every day. Keep your head up; 0-for-4 today. Tomorrow may be the day you go 4-for-4.”
Schoop lost nearly a month of the season due to a strained oblique, but he is fully healthy now. Still, his swing hasn’t been nearly as fluid as it was in 2017. It seems like he is off-balanced at times as he attacks a pitch. Showalter said it’s a difference that has been noted.
“Jon had those moments last year, but they were very short and he got right back into it. Hitting is such a timing thing and such a synchronization of a lot of different things. And when you get into a good spot, you wonder how you ever got out. And when you get out of it, you wonder how you are ever gonna get back in.”
Schoop is gonna get a few days off to try to get back in.
It’s worth the attempt. There’s nothing left to lose except more games, and that’s incidental now.